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Obama Inauguration Protected by Windows XP

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments
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Now that Obama is the 44th President of the U.S., the security measures that were in place to ensure a smooth inauguration will still continue to be in force for some time.

Although all the security agencies involved in today's event won't be out in full force every day, the security for Obama's new presidency still demands a certain level of awareness.

What better way to ensure that everything goes smoothly than to use Windows XP on FBI intelligence machines.

It looks like the FBI is reluctant to move to Windows Vista for laptops.

The FBI was out in force today, with a list of high-tech anti-threat technologies, including a bomb vessel designed to contain a live bomb, and even allow it to explode if necessary. The FBI also had a mobile command center on site, where it coordinates and organizes on-site agents. Able to execute all commands and observations, the mobile FBI command center is a big armored trailer with laptops and other computer equipment inside.

If you wanted to build a secure setup, what would you personally use for the ultimate security? Would Windows XP suffice? Or would you use something along the lines of Linux or BSD, or even Mac OS X Leopard? Do you think you can lock down a Windows system as hard as one based on *nix?

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  • 4 Hide
    igot1forya , January 20, 2009 8:44 PM
    I doubt the OS is where the DOD wanted to spend the time/money to secure. Chances are they went with a better firewall IDS/IPS then spin the bottle on securing an operating system. No OS is 100% secure, it's best to prevent intrusion before the attacker can even get to your workstation's flaws.
  • 1 Hide
    squatchman , January 20, 2009 9:05 PM
    I hope last year's pwn2own event at least showed some people that OSX isn't where you want to be for secure computing.
  • 6 Hide
    descendency , January 20, 2009 9:07 PM
    More likely that Vista's "security improvements" are more idiot proofing and less actual security (well, idiots screw their computers up regularly).
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  • 2 Hide
    ckthecerealkiller , January 20, 2009 9:20 PM
    descendencyMore likely that Vista's "security improvements" are more idiot proofing and less actual security (well, idiots screw their computers up regularly).

    You have no idea how correct you are....

    Ditto on Igot1, the real security measures are network not workstation based.
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , January 20, 2009 10:07 PM
    Open source OSes are definitely safer but I wouldn't speculate about the FBI still using XP. It takes a long time for the security agencies to evaluate a software platform and as a large government organization they will have access to Vista's source code as per Microsoft's policy. They probably use multiple OSes as they have to be able to perform forensics on any system. The NSA even wrote a mandatory access control add-on for Linux that is part of most distros (
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 11:24 PM
    All it takes is a competent IT staff and you can secure your OS. MAC OS X Leapord? Is that a joke? Lets not forget that you need to actually accomplish something, other than create youtube videos all day with your cute imovie hd, with your os. Windows is by far the most versatile and useful OS out there. There are a myriad of applications and uses for it, which is obviously why it is know upwards and backwards, which makes it a little more enticing to exploit, while at the same time making available an incredible number of different methods to secure it. Complaints about windows and are generally from the incompetent user and in the corporate world its because of ignorant and uneducated sys admins. Windows does not take on the aim to run your computer for you and make choices for you, which is why it is so successful. Mac OS is out of this world vulnerable, but where is the enticement to exploit it? there is very little! its user base is so limited and generally that of a college student/professor/grandmother/thinks they are cool because they own one, user. While they tend to make the most noise, they have yet to make a dent on the "pc" market. gg
  • 0 Hide
    bachok83 , January 21, 2009 12:25 AM
    you'll never know.. looks can be deceiving. This is FBI for crying out loud... They may be using some XP theme on their Red Hat Linux.

    who knows.. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    ahmshaegar , January 21, 2009 1:10 AM
    Are they using Windows XP everywhere? Or are these on the computers that the agents use? (for keeping track of intel and so on.) If these are the computers being used by agents, then it kind of makes sense they're using Windows XP. It's the most familiar thing to them. With the kind of jobs they're doing, the last thing they want to have to deal with is learning a different interface. They just want to get work done.
  • 1 Hide
    ravenware , January 21, 2009 1:37 AM
    It looks like the FBI is reluctant to move to Windows Vista for laptops.

    This is completely understandable. Their maybe several programs produced in house that simply may/would not function on vista.

    I am surprised they didn't use some form of UNIX or Linux.

  • 1 Hide
    resonance451 , January 21, 2009 2:17 AM
    As understandable as a lot of this is, the article sounds suspiciously like a Vista vs. XP propaganda ploy. I'm going to be trusting and assume it's not.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 21, 2009 4:10 AM
    security is least dependent on the OS. they're using it because they have more experience with it. also, it's quite difficult, risky and expensive for a new OS, more time is needed.
  • 0 Hide
    ThePatriot , January 21, 2009 5:00 AM
    There is no such thing as a secure laptop under windows.
    MS is in bed with the NSA; back doors al over.
    CPU's radiate, wireless access is full of holes.
    Security is always a compromise between functionality, availability and confidentiality. You can ask any Cisco security auditor.... they know.
  • 0 Hide
    Cuddles , January 21, 2009 7:08 AM
    FBI, Army, Navy, etc. all have a budget. If you have a really big question on how good their security is why don't you go try and hack it. Sure, you may actually get in but then you'll be running for a good portion of your life. They could be running OS 2 and it wouldn't matter because if you actually managed to hack the outcome would still be the same.
    Mind you that we are still in a time of war and if somebody did try to hack an FBI computer during the Presidential Inauguration the outcome would be very, very bad. I would even say they might go so far as labeling you as a threat to the United States and just putting you in a cell till they feel like letting you out.
    So XP, Vista, Linux, whatever OS it is... It would take a real dumb ass to try and hack an FBI computer and it would be an even bigger dumb ass to do it during a Presidential Inauguration. Sure, you could do it but the outcome wouldn't be worth it.
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , January 21, 2009 8:37 AM
    security has nothing to do with it, it's called money and contracts. if the government has a contract with a certain company they are forced to use that company's software, no matter how safe or unsafe it is. it's like they have a pair of hand-cuffs on.
  • 0 Hide
    gamerk316 , January 21, 2009 10:51 AM
    The FBI (and most agencies/coorporations) don't have a majority of computers powerful enough to run vista. You need to understand, the majority of PC's still have less than 1GB RAM on them. If OS's demand 2+ GB of RAM to run well, they will not succeede.
  • 0 Hide
    crom , January 21, 2009 12:34 PM
    No Windows OS is rated for top security, neither is Apple. The Vista vs XP issue is moot here because both are a bad choice for a truly secure OS.
  • 0 Hide
    bfstev , January 21, 2009 1:13 PM
    The government uses specialized versions of xp that they taylor to fit their needs. It is most definently more secure than regular xp.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 1:26 PM
    Bomb vehicle?
    I thought those guys needed to ensure peace, not war!

    If it takes a bomb to stop the bomber... where's the world getting to?
  • 0 Hide
    hardwarekid9756 , January 21, 2009 1:36 PM
    Where's the source? Just a picture?

    I would like to see a Gov't tech telling you they use XP/Vista. That computer has open... You ever think it's just a dummy PC with a dummy OS on it to trick people? I mean seriously...You're trusting a picture? If so, I've got some fantastic snake oil I can sell you...
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 2:29 PM
    @ ProDigit

    It's a Bomb Vessel. A Vessel is another word for a container. The container is an enclosed space with instruments that can operate on the package in question to determine if it's dangerous. If the package detonates, the explosion is contained.
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